Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fox Fall Pilot Review: Raising Hope - Premieres September 21

Raising Hope

Raising Hope - Tuesdays 9:00PM ET/PT on FOX
Premieres Tuesday, September 21, 2010 at 9:00PM ET/PT

RAISING HOPE is a new single-camera family comedy from Emmy Award winner Greg Garcia that follows the Chance family as they find themselves adding an unexpected new member into their household.

At 23 years old, JIMMY CHANCE (Lucas Neff) is going nowhere in life. He skims pools for a living, parties every night and still lives at home with his family, including his MAW MAW (Cloris Leachman); his mother, VIRGINIA (Martha Plimpton) and his father, BURT (Garret Dillahunt).

Jimmy’s life takes a drastic turn when a chance romantic encounter with LUCY (guest star Bijou Phillips) goes awry once he discovers she is a wanted felon. Months later, when Jimmy pays a visit to the local prison, he learns Lucy is pregnant with their baby, and after she gives birth, he is charged with raising their daughter.

Back at home, Jimmy’s family is less than enthusiastic about a new addition to the household. His parents, who had him when they were 15, never knew anything about raising a child and have no interest in trying again. Jimmy may be able to get some help from SABRINA (Shannon Woodward), a sardonic checkout clerk he met at the supermarket if only he can work up the nerve to ask her out. Despite it all, Jimmy is determined to take care of his baby – whom Virginia thinks they should name HOPE.

With very few useful skills but their hearts in the right place, will the Chance family be successful when they step into the unpredictable and immensely challenging world of parenting?

RAISING HOPE is produced by Amigos de Garcia Productions in association with 20th Century Fox Television. The pilot was written by Greg Garcia and directed by Michael Fresco. Garcia serves as executive producer on the series.

Cast Details:

* Lucas Neff as Jimmy Chance
* Martha Plimpton as Virginia Chance
* Garret Dillahunt as Burt Chance
* Shannon Woodward as Sabrina
* Cloris Leachman as Maw Maw
* Skyler Stone as Mike

Lucas Neff's (Jimmy Chance) acting career began as an accident when his application at the University of Illinois was misprocessed and they assigned him to the performing arts department by mistake. After graduating from college, he went on to study at the School at Steppenwolf.
Neff's theater credits include Jon, Talk Radio, Honest and Hamlet. He recently completed shooting John Sayles' Amigo with Chris Cooper.

Multi-talented Martha Plimpton (Virginia Chance) has achieved success on stage, screen, and television. She made her film debut in Alan J. Pakula's Rollover and went on to star in over 30 films, including The Goonies, The Mosquito Coast, Running on Empty, Beautiful Girls, Parenthood, 200 Cigarettes and Pecker.

Plimpton most recently starred in her one-woman cabaret act at Lincoln Center to critical acclaim and sold-out audiences. Prior to that, she starred opposite Stockard Channing in Pal Joey for the Roundabout Theater Company. The performance garnered her a third Tony Award nomination, a Drama League Award nomination and a Drama Desk Nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. In 2008, Plimpton starred in Top Girls for the Manhattan Theatre Club opposite Marisa Tomei, which resulted in Tony and Drama League nominations. As a member of the Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts Award.

Plimpton's memorable television appearances include The Good Wife, a recurring role on How To Make It In America and Law & Order: SVU, which garnered her an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series.

Garret Dillahunt (Burt Chance) recently completed work on John Sayles' Amigo and Ryan Redford's directorial debut, Oliver Sherman, playing the title role opposite Molly Parker and Donal Logue. This summer he can be seen in Winter's Bone, winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, as well as the thriller Burning Bright opposite Brianna Evigan. His additional film credits include The Road with Viggo Mortensen and Charlize Theron, Wes Craven's The Last House on the Left, the Academy Award-nominated The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and the Coen Brothers Oscar-winning drama No Country For Old Men opposite Tommy Lee Jones.

Dillahunt is probably best known for his work on the critically acclaimed cable series Deadwood, in which he portrayed two entirely different characters: the assassin "Jack McCall" and the complex and deadly "Francis Wolcott." After recognizing Dillahunt's talent in his first incarnation, executive producer/writer David Milch created a second character for him. Additional television credits include Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, John From Cincinnati, The Book of Daniel, ER, The 4400, Damages, Life, Lie to Me, Law & Order: SVU, Criminal Minds, Burn Notice and White Collar.

Shannon Woodward (Sabrina) hails from Boca Raton, FL, and Austin, TX. The 25-year-old's television credits include guest-starring roles on ER, Criminal Minds, Law & Order: SVU, Psych, Cold Case, Without a Trace, Crossing Jordan and Grounded for Life. Woodward was a series regular on The Riches.

Her film credits include Man of the House and The Comebacks, as well as independent films Girlfriend, The Shortcut, The Haunting of Molly Hartley and The Quiet.

Pilot Plot:

#1 "Pilot" (Airs September 21)
When well-meaning 23 year-old Jimmy Chance has a one-night stand with a wanted felon (guest star Bijou Phillips), he ends up with a brand-new baby girl. Inspired to do the right thing by his daughter he has to convince his less than enthusiastic parents and great grandmother Maw Maw (guest star Cloris Leachman) to help him raise her.
Directed by Michael Fresco
Written by Greg Garcia
Guest Stars: Cloris Leachman as Maw Maw, Bijou Phillips as Lucy, Ben Bagley as Newscaster, Gregg Binkley as Barney, Alycia L. Cooper as Dana, Kelly Heyer as Young Virginia (note that the guest stars weren't listed on the screener pilot - credits are from the IMDB and may be incomplete)

Analysis:

The opening scene begins with Jimmy and his cousin Mike skimming a pool. Jimmy's boss and father, Burt, rides on a lawnmower and blows some leaves back into the pool. Jimmy promptly quits the job. Jimmy says hello to his mom who goes to her housecleaning job. While "Chelsea Dagger" by The Fratellis (the Chicago Blackhawks goal song) plays in the background, Jimmy makes his life plan. The family has dinner together and discover they are out of bubblegum ice cream. Jimmy is the odd man out and picks up a frantic Lucy in his van on his way home from getting the ice cream. After a one-night stand, she meets the family the next morning. Everybody is shocked to watch a news report on TV that says Lucy is wanted in connection with a series of murders. Eight months later, Mike goes to the local prison and finds out that Lucy is pregnant. After she gives birth, he brings the baby, known as Princess Beyonce, home. Jimmy later pushes a shopping cart with the baby to go to a pawn shop to get a car seat. He meets Sabrina in the parking lot at the local grocery store. The shopping cart is stolen at the pawn shop, so Virginia drives him back. There is a flashback scene with a young Virginia and Jimmy in a car in a unbuckled car set. Jimmy goes to the grocery store to get some baby food and meets Sabrina again. Later, Jimmy changes the baby's diaper and he and Virginia have a bad experience. When the baby cries that night, Virginia sings a song to get her to sleep. Virginia later suggests that they name the baby Hope.

This single-camera comedy pilot is very funny and entertaining. It's shot like a mini-movie. There are many different scenes and shooting locations. The only sets appear to be the interior of the Chance family house and the grocery store. All of the other scenes appear to be shot at real locations. This is a very edgy and dark comedy. Some may find some of it to be tasteless, rude and crude, but I think it fits perfectly on Fox. I couldn't imagine this on another network. There's also a certain amount of warmth and sweetness to it. This blue-collar comedy is similar to one of creator Greg Garcia's earlier projects, My Name Is Earl. Like Earl, quite a few songs and flashbacks are used in the pilot.

There really isn't anything that I didn't like about the pilot. It sets up the characters and premise of the series nicely. It will be interesting to see who they bring in to play some quirky recurring characters in future episodes. Bijou Phillips will be brought back for at least one more episode. Cloris Leachman is listed as a guest star for the pilot. Her role is pretty small as the senile grandmother, but she makes the most out of her limited screen time and lines. The show could use a little less of her shirtless, however.

Conclusion:

Raising Hope appears to be one of the most promising new comedies this season. I'm usually not a big fan of single-camera comedies, but this one is set up the right way. I was a big fan of Greg Garcia's My Name Is Earl and this show has a bit of the same feel to it. Those episodes were shot like mini-movies with many different scenes per episode. They also used quite a few songs and flashback scenes, just like the Raising Hope pilot episode. Lucas Neff, as the young dad Jimmy, could be one of the breakout stars of the fall TV season. He seems to be a unknown with only a handful of film and TV credits. There isn't even a Wikipedia page for him yet. He does an excellent job in the pilot and is surrounded by an experienced ensemble cast. It's nice to see Martha Plimpton as a regular in a TV series. She has had a number of film and TV guest star appearances over the years, but this is her first lead role on a weekly series.

This will be a new show to watch this season. I've seen it listed on many critic's top new shows this fall. Fox really hasn't had a great live-action comedy since Arrested Development ended, but this should fill the void and end their drought. It faces some tough competion against the Dancing with the Stars Results show, NCIS: LA and the second hour of The Biggest Loser. I don't think it will generate great ratings, but this is a show that should be popular with DVR users and for people who watch shows online at the official sites. Tune in amd meet the Chance family on Fox on Tuesday nights at 9 ET/PT.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 4.5/5
Funniness: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 09/19/10

Discuss the show after you watch it on Tuesday, September 21 on our message board.

Related Links:

  • Fox.com Official Site

  • TV.com

  • epguides.com

  • Internet Movie Database

  • Wikipedia

  • Raising Hope Photo Gallery


  • Preview:


    Our normal weekly ratings report will be back next week. We will be bringing you pilot reviews over the next few days. Here is the schedule:

    Friday, September 17: Mike & Molly, CBS (premieres Monday, Sept. 20)
    Sunday, September 19: Raising Hope, Fox (premieres Tuesday, Sept. 21)
    Monday, September 20: Running Wilde, Fox (premieres Tuesday, Sept. 21)
    Tuesday, September 21: Better With You, ABC (premieres Wednesday, Sept. 22)
    Wednesday, September 22: $#*! (Bleep) My Dad Says, CBS (premieres Thursday, Sept. 23)
    Thursday, September 23: Outsourced, NBC (premieres Thursday, Sept. 23)


    Sitcoms Airing Tonight / Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows

    Tuesday, May 21

    none scheduled

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of May 20)

    Tuesday, May 21

    • Pamela Adlon (Better Things/King of the Hill/The Facts of Life) - Catch Pamela on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Rose Byrne (Physical) - Rose is a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
    • Jim Rash (Community/Help Me Help You/Thanks/Kate Joplin) and Nat Faxon (Loot/HouseBroken/Disenchantment) - Jim and Nat are guests on After Midnight at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Jennifer Lopez (South Central) - E! News has an interview with Jennifer at 11pm on E!.
    • Michelle Buteau (Survival of the Thickest/Bless the Harts/Enlisted) - Michelle appears on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen at 3:30am on Bravo.
    • Ted Danson (Mr. Mayor/The Good Place/Bored to Death/Help Me Help You/Becker/Ink/Cheers) - Ted is joining Drew and they're chatting about working together on a film in Alaska, his new podcast with Woody Harrelson and celebrating his twenty-ninth wedding anniversary on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
    • Chelsea Handler (Are You There, Chelsea?) - Drew is surprised by special guest Chelsea Handler who's joining her and Ross Mathews to cover topics at the news desk like the viral conversation over adults sleeping with stuffed animals on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
    • Dylan McDermott (LA to Vegas) - Dylan is a guest on Access Daily with Mario & Kit, so check your local listings.
    • Hannah Einbinder (Hacks) - Hannah can be heard on The Morning Mash Up on SiriusXM.
    • Jameela Jamil (Pitch Perfect: Bumper in Berlin/The Good Place) - Jameela appears on PIX11 Morning News on WPIX in New York at 9:30am.
    • The Cast of Good Times - Iconic 70s sitcom Good Times turns 50 and cast members Jimmie Walker, Bern Nadette Stanis, and Ralph Carter are back together on Sherri, so check your local listings.


    New on DVD/Blu-ray

    Father Knows Best - The Complete Series Three's Company - The Official 40th Anniversary Collection Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Too Close for Comfort - The Complete Series Check It Out! - The Complete Series

    12/05 - Father Knows Best - The Complete Series
    12/05 - The Odd Couple - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
    12/12 - The Dick Van Dyke Show - The Complete Series
    12/12 - Looney Tunes Collector's Choice - Volume 2 (Blu-ray)
    12/12 - That Girl - The Complete Series
    12/15 - Letterkenny - Season 11
    12/19 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Official Restored Complete Series
    12/22 - Three's Company - The Official 40th Anniversary Collection (includes The Ropers and Three's a Crowd)
    01/09 - South Park - Seasons 11-15 (Blu-ray)
    01/16 - Ghosts (UK) - Season Five
    02/13 - Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
    02/27 - The Really Loud House - Season One
    03/12 - Ghosts (UK) - The Complete Series
    03/12 - Looney Tunes Collector's Choice - Volume 3 (Blu-ray)
    03/12 - Rick and Morty - Season 7 (Blu-ray Steelbook) (Blu-ray) (DVD)
    04/03 - Too Close for Comfort - The Complete Series (VEI)
    04/08 - Check It Out! - The Complete Series (VEI)
    05/21 - Frasier (2023) - Season One

    The Odd Couple - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) That Girl - The Complete Series The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Official Restored Complete Series

    More Recent and Upcoming TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


    Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

    05/21 - HBO Orders Steve Carell Comedy Series; Bad Monkey Gets Premiere Date
    05/20 - The Thundermans Gets Spinoff Series; Remembering Dabney Coleman
    05/19 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of May 20, 2024)
    05/18 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Another South Park "Event" Coming Next Week; Latest Development in Paramount Sale Could Split Up Company
    05/17 - The CW 2024-25 Schedule; South Park: The End of Obesity Coming to Paramount+
    05/16 - Netflix Upfront 2024; Hulu's Only Murders in the Building Returns for Season 4 in August
    05/15 - Antenna TV's Father Knows Best 70th Anniversary Marathon; Wizards Beyond Waverly Place Coming Soon to Disney
    05/14 - ABC Upfront 2024-25: Fall 2024 Schedule; That '90s Show Part 2 Premieres June 27
    05/13 - Fox Upfront 2024-25: Fall 2024 Schedule; Paramount+ Sitcom Frasier Season 2 Coming Soon
    05/12 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of May 13, 2024)
    05/11 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Spinoff of The Neighborhood Headed to Paramount+; Fox Cancels HouseBroken
    05/10 - NBC Upfront 2024-25: Fall 2024 Schedule; The Bear Returns June 27 on FX on Hulu
    05/09 - Peacock Orders New Series from The Office Universe; Hulu's UnPrisoned Is Back July 17
    05/08 - NBC 2024-25 Comedy Slate, Reba Sitcom Picked Up; CBS Summer 2024 Schedule
    05/07 - Paramount+ Gets The Neighborhood Spin-Off; First Look at Jim Parsons and Mayim Bialik Reunion on Young Sheldon
    05/06 - ABC Summer 2024 Schedule; NBC Renews Night Court for Season 3
    05/05 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of May 6, 2024)
    05/04 - SitcomsOnline Digest: MeTV Announces MeTV Toons; Night Court Renewed for Third Season
    05/03 - CBS 2024-25 Schedule; AXS TV's Shirley Partridge Mother of the Year Marathon
    05/02 - Antenna TV's Family Ties Mother's Day at the Keatons Marathon; Prime Video Orders Series Ahead of First Upfront
    05/01 - Ty Burrell Has Roku and ABC Sitcoms in the Works; HBO Comedy Fantasmas Premieres in June
    04/30 - FETV Acquires The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp; Game Show Network to Debut New Show Hosted by Cameron Mathison
    04/29 - CBS Brings Back Lingo This Summer; The Daily Show Adds to All-Star News Team
    04/28 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of April 29, 2024)
    04/27 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Steve Carell and Tina Fey to Star Opposite Each Other in Netflix Series; Delta Burke Talks About Designing Women
    04/26 - Netflix Orders Leanne Morgan Sitcom; Dora Renewed for Season 2 at Paramount+
    04/25 - Steve Carell to Star in Netflix Comedy Series; Marlon Wayans Gets Prime Video Comedy Special
    04/24 - Apple TV+ Comedy Trying Season 4; Shoresy Returns to Hulu in June
    04/23 - Bob Hearts Abishola Coming to Syndication This Fall; Off Script With The Hollywood Reporter Returns in May
    04/22 - Hasan Minhaj: Off With His Head Comedy Tour Expands Into June & July, Including at NJPAC; Comedy Central Orders Golden Axe
    04/21 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of April 22, 2024)